“I remember way back in the olden days,” says the old woman in a quavery voice, “before California transformed into the Great Western Desert.” She leans back in her chair and looks at the children gathered around her, their eyes filled with wonder. “The lush rolling hills. The sparkling lakes. Back when we had so much water…” She leans in close and drops her voice. “People used to water their lawns nearly every day, just to keep them green.”
The children scream in horror. Who would do such a thing?
Okay, okay, a little melodramatic, perhaps. But seriously…here we are, in the middle of one of California’s worst droughts in recent history, and still I’ve noticed people watering their front lawns to keep them as green as Astroturf. Old habits die hard.
Fresh water. It’s one of those things that we privileged Americans take for granted. Fresh water to drink. Fresh water for showers and car washing and dog washing. Fresh water to keep the lawns green. Fresh water to waste. And waste it we do. From hosing down our walkways to ignoring our leaky pipes, we are great at finding ways to pretend that fresh water is not a precious resource. Unluckily, our great state is exploring a few desperate options to get us through this dry spell, such as the Toilet to Tap program. Yes, this is exactly as it sounds – wastewater that is treated so that it can be reused. (Time to buy stock in bottled water, folks). But luckily, our great state is also doing a few things right, like making it a crime to be caught wasting water. But still, not everyone grasps the importance.
As it’s nearly Earth Day, and also because I love California and would prefer to not see it turn into a total desert, I will share a few tips that everyone – not only Californians – can follow to help conserve the one thing that no human can live without – fresh water.
- Water your garden early in the morning, or in the evening after the weather has cooled.
- Use a broom to clean your driveway or walkway instead of the hose.
- Wash only full loads of laundry. Use the lightest wash cycle for lightly soiled clothes. Consider replacing your old, inefficient washer with a new, water-saving machine.
- Wash only full loads in the dishwasher.
- The toilet – remember the old motto, Californians? “If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down.”
- Repair leaky faucets, pipes, and toilets. Those tiny drips may not seem like much, but you’d be surprised by how quickly they add up!
- Cut your showers. Many medical experts agree that showering every other day is ideal. In fact, showering daily can actually be harmful to the skin. Can’t deal with the lighter shower schedule? Try cutting back your shower length to 5 minutes or less.
- You’ve heard it a million times – don’t let the water run while brushing your teeth. Or shaving. You can even turn it off while scrubbing your hands, then turn it on again to rinse.
- Try rinsing your fresh produce in a bowl, then reusing that water to water the plants.
Remember: Save water – it will save you later.